The ruination of most punters when applying a staking plan, usually revolves around an incorrect mixture of expectation and realism.

The expectation is that they will pick winners on a fairly regular basis and by the application of a staking plan will maximise their returns to ensure a profit when a winning selection is backed.

The realism comes when the punter’s expectation is not met and the winners do not arrive on the assumed regular basis.

The most damaging staking plans are those that seek to win $x per race. This type of staking plan has an array of names but generally is known as Target Betting in Australia and Due Column Betting in the USA because, as their names imply, a “target” is sought or an amount of profit is “due” when a winner arrives.

The best known Target Betting Plan is the Six Point Target Betting Plan where the target is to win six betting points for every winner backed at 6/1 or a number of winners whose odds add up to 6. Any winner whose price is longer than 6/1 will win more than was expected.

This plan is excellent in theory because when you understand its logic it all seems so easy. However, the reality is only fully comprehended when the killer of all simple staking plans occurs: the dreaded run of outs. Initially when the losers occur the user feels fine because they “know” they are going to back a winner soon but a hint of nervousness appears after X number of losers and panic sets in when the losing streak hits 2X.

You can imagine the stress levels rising with each loser because by this stage the bet size will have risen to an alarming size and the punter’s selection confidence will have started to erode, not to mention the effect the losing streak would be having on the punting bank.

This is what happens as the plan goes along:

ObjDivBet (rounded up)
5 losers totalling 10 units down

At this stage, we have had 10 losers and the minimum bet has multiplied by 6. The total outlay is $32 based on a minimum of $1 but don’t forget the minimum at the TAB is $3 (in Victoria) and on Betfair it’s $6 and you can only bet $1 minimum bets on the TAB via the Internet.

Just the same I would be assuming most punters would not feel massively threatened by a loss of 32 units. Most would be thinking they had been unlucky and they may well have been to have struck such a run of outs but racing is racing and Lady Luck will come good for them shortly and especially in the next 10 bets. However, let’s see what happens if the unthinkable happens and the punter is hit with another 10 losers.

ObjDivBet (rounded up)
456 8
626 11
73 613
15 losers and 80 units down
86 615
101 617
118 6 20
1386 23

At this stage we have had 20 losers, the bet size has risen to 27 times the initial bet  and the loss stands at $182 for $1 units, $546 for $3 units and $1,092 for $6 units.

How many punters would now surge forward with the same confidence they had at Bet Number 1? Those betting in $1 units would be feeling ordinary but in the real world $182 is not an astronomical amount and they would put it down to experience and drop out or they might think “I will go another 10 because surely I cannot go any worse than this”.

Those betting in $3 units at the TAB would be feeling more stressed because $546 is more than half a week’s wages for the average worker and those on $6 units would be having serious second thoughts. As you can see, this is where the term “Comfort Zone” comes into effect.

Every punter has a Comfort Zone which when exceeded causes stress beyond what they wish to suffer. Answer this question, depending on which level you started: “Would I go on?” If your answer is “Yes” then let us see what would have happened with another 10 losers.

ObjDivBet (rounded up)
188 632
This is Bet Number 25: the total loss is $403 based on the minimum $1 bet and for the $3 TAB punter it’s $,1209 and for the minimum $6 Betfair punter it’s $2,418. Have you bailed out yet? I will bet you are seriously thinking about!

Phew! There we have it. A massive 30 straight losers and a loss of (wait for it) $881 on $1 unit minimum bet size and $5,286 for the $6 Betfair punter and $2,643 for the average TAB punter. If per chance the 30th bet was a winner at 6/1 the return would have been $881 for a profit of $8.

The question you need to ask yourself is whether you could go on with the sort of stakes involved and are you prepared to risk the total amount involved?

In all fairness to the staking plan I have outlined a really dismal scenario of 30 straight losers and if you have that sort of run of outs you need to question the selection process before blaming the plan.

Any punter who has backed well credentialed in-form runners that are in their correct class over a suitable distance and in the right track conditions  and backs that many losers in a row, will lose no matter what they do. That sort of punter has not done the form and is just basically guessing.

Over the years I have played with Target Betting on a small scale and have found it to be profitable as long as I have incorporated a mixture of win and place bets into the mix. Currently I do this on Saturdays and will back a fun bet if I see about $1.80 or more for the place on a fancy and if less I will bet for the win even if at odds on.

This keeps my run of outs down and allows me to keep my bank intact. This sort of playing around keeps me sane while I am waiting for a bigger more serious betting proposition to present itself.

Although the main premise of this article is to highlight the negative side of Target Betting and to show just how easy it is to treat this style of staking flippantly, I must admit I am a fan of Target Betting as a form of staking for the small punter.

My suggestion to the average TAB punter is to pool together with a couple of your regular punting mates and try the plan on solid selections alternating between win and place bets or even having two or more bets a race which will reduce the run of outs.

If your selections are well thought out genuine chances I don’t think you will go bust. It will be a slow process but the profits will accrue . . . however, ALWAYS keep in mind what I have shown you here. Your worst scenario will see you go bust but if it is an affordable amount over the course of many meetings, you and your friends may not have done much more damage than any other approach.

Years and years ago when I was young, impressionable and certainly gullible (translate “gullible” for “greedy”), a mate and I decided to follow another couple of our mates who had decided to pool their punting resources and set upon the Target Betting path via the Six Point Target Betting Plan.

One of them had read an article based on this approach and being somewhat mathematically minded surmised, as most punters would, that they had the ability to pick a sensible number of winners over three or four meetings (eight races per day in those days) but even if they only picked one at around 4/1 they would hardly be down any meaningful amount of money.

Week after week they arrived back at our watering hole each Saturday night with a tale of another winning day with an occasional no win day but “we were stiff” stories attached. Their bank grew and as any normal young punter would have reacted they became quite blasé about it all and attracted a legendary status to the point where we thought, “Why don’t we do the same” and we did!

We hadn’t seen the lads for a couple of weeks but one Saturday night in they strolled with a grim look on their faces.

They had in the preceding weeks decided to extend their target betting to include interstate (normally they just bet on Melbourne) and some midweek venues at tracks like Mornington, Pakenham, Cranbourne, Geelong and Werribee.

In no time flat they struck a run of outs over 20 and they simply gave it away because the bet size was becoming huge. You need to know they started with $10 minimum bets back in the early to mid 1970s and that were sizeable enough on their wage at the time.

My mate and I were shocked but after some discussion we decide to only stick to what we knew: Melbourne racing and kept going because at that stage we, too, were winning each week albeit a smaller amount than the lads.

Inevitably, we hit a bad run and it all came down to a horse, whose name I still remember, called Light Up. This runner had 57kg in one of the legendary 2600m staying events at Moonee Valley that were renowned for upsets due to the pace of distance races plus the low standard of horse.

Light Up was to be ridden by Ray Setches (a favourite of mine at the time) and was at 5/1. My mate and I decided to not back Light Up (I think he may have drifted alarmingly) and went for another runner only to see Light Up get up in the last couple of strides.

We were devastated and like the other group we limped into the watering hole that night cursing the punt and our lack of brains and courage of conviction. The following Saturday we were over the devastation of the previous week and, lo and behold, started backing winners again but this time with lesser amounts.

We were back into our Comfort Zone and enjoyed the punt again – but I can tell you the agonising run of outs was not an enjoyable experience.

In my next article I will outline some safety strategies for the Target Betting punter that will certainly reduce the massive rise in stakes I have outlined.

Until then if you do try Target Betting make sure you use a mixture of win and place or multiple betting as they will keep the run of outs down to a sensible number but remember one thing stands above all: no staking plan of any kind can overcome a poor selection process.

Click here to read Part 2.

By Roman Kozlovski